Ruby-Throated Hummingbird
a Quick Profile

Ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds are the only hummer to nest East of the Great Plains.

This 3 to 3-3/4 inch long garden jewel makes its home in swamps, woodlands, parks and gardens.

It feels more at home in country settings than in suburban gardens, but I have seen them in cities, suburbs, rural and woodland settings and gardens.

Both sexes emit a soft "tchew" to alert other hummers to their presence.

The Male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird stakes out territories at stands of flowers or feeders, where they aggressively defend against competing males. Females are tolerated, at least to a point.

Others creatures including humans may be seen as intruders. Countless times I have been buzzed by a male hummer. To watch these almost arrogant birds chase or fly at other species of birds is also a treat to watch.

When the Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbird appears 7 to 10 days later, courtship starts.

The male Ruby will do fantastic and fast displays. Trying to face the sun so the gorget is shown, he will start about 50 to 60 feet up and make a series of "U's" while chirping out to her.


After they mate, she takes off to lay her egg in a walnut shell-sized nest on slender, downward sloping twigs in trees and large shrubs.

Overhanging leaves offer cover from rain.

Nests are constructed of plant down, hair, spider webs, plant pieces and lichen.

Nests are often near or over water.

When you watch these marvels, you will notice they rarely fly directly to the nest.

In the deep South, the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird may have two or three broods. Here in the North where the hummers appear in May or even June, there is only time for one clutch.

They are strongly migratory. Southward movement of adult males begin shortly after the summer solstice.

Females and young follow when fledglings are capable of finding their own food. Here in southwest, Michigan that is usually the last week of September and on occasion, the first week of October.

Migration South is much different than heading North.

A leisurely pace allows for favorite stop overs to rest and feed. Here you may see huge numbers of hummingbirds in one location as they near the Gulf Coast and Texas where the geography allows for concentrated numbers of the migrants.

Now, these guys are typically loners. They don't like each other much it seems, but will tolerate each other at feeders and flowerbeds this time of year.

They are well rested and weight gain should be double from 1/10 of an ounce to 1/5 of an ounce. The added weight helps them on the final leg to southern Mexico and Costa Rica. In these places they must compete with native species and other nectar lovers as well as a declining habitat.

A small but growing population of Ruby-throats spend the winter in Florida and the coastal regions of the South.

Returning migrants often wing across the Gulf of Mexico, an arduous nonstop journey that takes about 18 hours on a good day.

Spring arrivals in the deep South are in February. Northern hummers may not reach Ontario and Quebec until early June.

Male Ruby

Migration Status: Neotropical migrant

Breeding Habitat: Woodland

Clutch Size: 2 navy bean sized eggs, a dull white

Length of Incubation: 11-14? days

Days to Fledge: 14-28

Number of Broods: 2, occasionally 3

1 clutch in the North





Similar species:

No other hummingbirds occur regularly over much of its range, but there is some overlap in the southeast and Texas. The Broad Tailed Hummingbird is similar to the male Ruby-Throated, but has a rosy-red throat rather than a scarlet or ruby throat patch.

The male can also be identified by their black face and chin, and their distinctive call notes, and the lack of a wing whistle produced by their wings in flight. Females are similar to a number of other female hummingbirds, and are best told from the Calliope Hummingbird and species in the genus Selasphorus by their lack of rufous on the flanks and in the tail.

Anna's Hummingbirds are larger and have grayer chests, while Costa's Hummingbirds differ only in subtleties of facial pattern and tail pattern. Black-Chinned Hummingbird females are essentially identical, and are not safely separable from female Ruby-Throats except in the hand. Best told from all species except Black-chinned Hummingbird by

Range Map for Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

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Migration North

Hummingbirds Mating

Migration South

Feeding Hummingbirds

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